Quinn persuades Fer-Pal to open in Elgin, brings 50 jobs - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Quinn persuades Fer-Pal to open in Elgin, brings 50 jobs

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Governor Quinn said he worked hard to persuade a water-main repair company to open a new office in the Northwest Suburbs.

"We want to have a water sector in Illinois, a cluster of companies that help each other, that really help teach us all how important it is to invest in water technology," Quinn said.

The Canadian company said it hopes to employ about 50 workers in Elgin next year.

The governor said he traveled personally to Toronto to recruit these four dozen or so jobs and hopes there will be more. Nearly 600,000 Illinoisans are looking for work. And the big question remains, "Why do we have the worst unemployment rate in the Midwest?"

"I'm afraid that Illinois is getting a reputation as being a state that cannot function--the perception that individuals are out only for their own gain and only for their own political survival," says Professor David Merriman with the UIC Institute of Government and Public Affairs.

Governor Quinn has been unable to get the General Assembly to fix unfunded pensions, but he is snipping several ribbons a week.

Officials said there would be 50 employees and 75 independent contractors working next year at the new Elgin facility of Fer-Pal Infrastructure. They put small robots inside old water pipes to make them like new, without digging them up, thus avoiding street closures and other disruption. The Toronto-based CEO said Pat Quinn sold him on suburban Chicago as a base from which to serve the American side of the Great Lakes.

"We think there's a great labor market here that we could use," Fer-Pal's Chief Executive Shaun McKaigue says of opening in Elgin. "And we think there's a great opportunity, create a lot of jobs, grow a great business."

Illinois would need to add 800 businesses of this size -- with about 100,000 new jobs -- just to bring our unemployment rate down to the national average.

"We know we have a lot of work to do. We are driving job creation here," the Director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Adam Pollet, explains. "And we believe that this economy and the governor's efforts to do job creation will catch up and we'll see that unemployment rate come down."

When asked why Illinois has the worst unemployment rate in the Midwest, Professor Merriman responds, "We are not able to reach decisions about really crucial public policy questions in a timely manner, in a manner that's transparent, in a manner that's viewed as fair."

The General Assembly is scheduled to reconvene next week. As for the hundreds of billions of dollars in unfunded public employee pensions, which some believe has become a real job-killer, legislators are expected once again to talk about it and then adjourn without doing a thing.

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